African Lion facts – Data & Info on Lions
African Lion ( Panthera Leo ) the largest of Africa’s big cats. Description, facts and pictures
Most cat species live a fundamentally solitary existence, but the african lion is an exception. Prides of Lion are found in savannas, grasslands, dense bush and woodlands.
Lion are the largest of the African cats and a member of the “Big 5”
The male lion is easy recognized by his mane which extends from the side of his face down to the neck, shoulders and chest. The colour of the mane can vary from blond to black.
Lions usually have a uniform tawny colour with dark tipped tail. Lions can reach a weight of up to 230kg (male), and the female 160 kg and have a life expectancy of about 15 years.
Lions are the most social members of the big cats and are the only ones to live and hunt in family groups. Lions of the same pride develop strong social bonds and practice head rubbing and social grooming. Lions are highly territorial and mark their territory by urine, droppings and by earth scratching.
The frightening roar of the lion which can be heard over several kilometers also acts as a warning to possible intruders.
An average pride of about 15 individuals, would include five to 10 females with their young and two or three territorial males that are usually brothers or pride mates.
Young females usually join their mother pride, but young males will leave the pride. Females in a pride practice communal cub rearing and hunting.
The lion’s social system is based on teamwork and a division of labour within the pride, and an extended but closed family unit centred around a group of related females.
Usually several lions will work together to hunt prey – sneaking up on the victim until they are within a striking distance of about 30m or less.
Prey is generally killed by a stranglehold to the throat.
After some years the dominant males of the group are replaced by more powerful contenders, thus ensuring the introduction of new genetic material into the gene pool
A male will join a lioness when in heat and stay with her constantly over a period of several days. They will mate regularly every 15 to 30 minutes although mating itself takes less than a minute. The males’ penis is barbed and on withdrawal hurts the female.
The pain however is necessary as it sends a shock to her system to induce ovulation.
The gestation period is approx. 110 days and litters can vary from 1 to 4 cubs.
There is no fixed breeding season and birthing take places under cover, returning to the pride when the cubs are between 4 – 8 weeks old. Cubs are introduced to meat at a young age (approx. 6 weeks) and play in imitation of adults. This “play” prepares them and helps in the development of such useful skills as stalking prey.
New leaders of a pride may kill and eat the cubs of other males. The impact of this seems to bring the females into heat again
Include elephant, buffalo and hyenas but man remains the lions biggest enemy.
[table]Feeding[/table]Lions usually hunt at night or dawn. Their prey consists mainly of large mammals such as antelope, wildebeest and buffalo. They are also known to take smaller animals such as hares and birds. A lion will also scavenge chasing other predators from their kills.
Most lions drink water daily if available, but can go four or five days without it.
In arid areas they obtain needed moisture from the stomach contents of their prey.
Never turn your back on a lion, just walk slowly backwards
If you turn and run your soul and body will part company.